Canada must wait for World Cup spot after loss to Costa Rica

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) — Celso Borges scored in first-half stoppage time and Costa Rica kept Canada from wrapping up its first World Cup berth in 36 years Thursday night with a 1-0 victory in CONCACAF qualifying.

Canada needs a win or a draw Sunday when it hosts Jamaica to book a spot in Qatar, while Costa Rica moved into fourth place in the CONCACAF standings with two matches remaining.

Canada played with 10 men after Mark-Anthony Kaye was sent off with a red card in the 34th minute.

With Panama’s 1-1 draw with last-place Honduras earlier Thursday, Canada needed a win or a draw at Costa Rica’s National Stadium in San Jose to secure a berth. Canada also could have clinched with a Mexico win over the United States, but that game ended in a scoreless draw Thursday night.

The loss snapped a six-game Canada winning streak in qualifying.

“It’s a tough loss tonight — we would have loved to put this team in Qatar,” Canada coach John Herdman said. “We’ll save it for when we get back to our hometown and our own country. We could have stayed until 2 o’clock in the morning and that goal was not going to wilt.”

Canada still sits atop the North and Central America and the Caribbean qualifying standings with 25 points, ahead of the United States and Mexico with 22 points apiece. The U.S. has the edge on goal difference. Costa Rica has 19 points.

The top three CONCACAF finishers secure World Cup berths. The fourth-place team will face a team from Oceania in an intercontinental playoff.

“These players have character and a lot of desire to represent the country, we beat the best team in CONCACAF,” Costa Rica coach Luis Fernando Suárez said.

Borges scored on a header in the box two minutes into first-half stoppage time to to give Costa Rica the lead. Despite dominating possession, Canada could not break through in the second half.

Los Ticos were undefeated in four straight qualifying matches and have not conceded a goal.

Canada has been playing without Alphonso Davies, who missed the previous three qualifying matches because myocarditis was discovered after he caught COVID-19 un January.

In the other CONCACAF qualifying matches on Thursday, Andre Gray scored in the 72nd minute and Jamaica eliminated El Salvador from World Cup contention with a 1-1 draw at Jamaica’s National Stadium in Kingston.

Eriq Zavaleta, who plays for the LA Galaxy, scored in the 21st for EL Salvador. The Reggae Boyz were already eliminated from a spot in Qatar.

Kevin Lopez’s goal in the 65th minute pulled to Honduras into a 1-1 draw with Panama. Rolando Blackburn scored in the 23rd for Panama, which dropped out of fourth place in the standings.

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